My good friend and soon-to-be office chum Adam has recently been criticizing certain preachers for claiming that Jesus Christ came and died so that we could live free from suffering the things most unbelievers suffer—not merely in the new heaven and the new earth, but right now!
Silly Adam! It’s too bad you, a puny intern, have to go up against the likes of Joseph Prince, pastor of a 15,000-strong megachurch in Singapore. Pastor Prince knows his stuff. He has an anointing. His preaching is “humorous, personal, and practical,” according to his church’s website. (And who would know better than them?)
Now, Pastor Prince would have you know that Jesus did not merely bear your sins on the cross. He also bore your physical sicknesses. This means that the only thing preventing you from being healed of any ailment is your lack of faith. After all, you have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you and God would never want you to get sick. (Similarly, since Christ took your poverty on Him when He was crucified, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be wealthy other than your lack of faith.)
The smoking gun prooftext? Here it is:
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
Never mind that the context of the entire passage is talking about sin. Never mind that all competent Bible scholars agree that this “healing” is poetic language. Pastor Prince has an anointing, and the Holy Spirit revealed this to him!
Now, it’s possible that I have the same anointing, so let me take a stab at this. Following Pastor Prince’s overly literal interpretation of Isaiah 53, we can draw a few more conclusions that will surely bring joy to you, my dear comfort-starved Christian:
- Jesus Christ bore all your oppression on the cross. “He was oppressed and afflicted….By oppression and judgment he was taken away” (vv. 7-8). If you are one of those unfortunate Christians living in an oppressive society, such as North Korea or the Congo, it’s your fault that you’re oppressed! Clearly, Jesus bore all our oppression, so it’s your lack of faith that got you thrown into that labor camp because you stumbled into the house while that soldier was chopping your kids into little pieces.
- Jesus Christ bore all your unpopularity on the cross. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (v. 3). So you’re getting bullied in middle school? So people keep making fun of you because you stutter? So people hate you because you get good grades? Well, Jesus bore all your rejection, so if people despise you for silly reasons like that, it’s clearly because you don’t have enough faith! God would never allow such painful and unnecessary things to happen to you!
- Jesus Christ bore all your ugliness on the cross. “His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblence….He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (52:14, 53:2). Are you fat? Are you ugly? Are you both fat and ugly? It’s your fault, stupid! Don’t you know that Jesus bore all your physical unattractiveness on the cross? Get some more faith! As the Caedmon’s Call song “There You Go” explains, “There you go working good from my bad / There you go making robes from my rags / There you go melting pounds from my calves.” According to the Bible, we should all be beautiful and thin.
So you see, your life sucks. If you would only listen to Pastor Prince, things would go much better for you. I leave you with today’s devotional from the good Pastor’s desk:
Consider The Lilies Of The Field
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
You may think that you must work very hard to provide for yourself and get ahead in life. But God wants you to consider the lilies of the field — they do nothing. They toil not, spin not and struggle not. Yet, they grow and are clothed by God while simply resting and basking in the sunshine of God’s love! And when God clothes them, they look even more glorious than King Solomon, the richest king who ever lived.
Like the lilies of the field, God wants you to let Him take care of providing for your material needs, instead of striving to do that yourself. When you let go and let Him, you will see Him bless you supernaturally, abundantly and generously!
Consider what happened to one of our church members who had been looking for a job. Initially, he received only two calls for interviews after sending out 12 resumés. Refusing to be discouraged, he believed that God wanted to bless him not just with a job, but with a position of influence too.
God was faithful. This church member soon became business manager of an engineering company even though he had no engineering background. He was offered a very attractive remuneration package and within his first week on the job, was asked to quote on two projects. He knew that this was God’s doing because it was difficult enough just to secure an appointment with contract managers to discuss projects, let alone be asked to quote on not one but two projects. Before long, he was offered the position to run the entire Singapore subsidiary with only one other business development manager. He was then only 25 years old!
My friend, God can do for you what He did for this person. Just believe that if God clothes the lilies and grass of the field which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He clothe you, His eternal and precious child, with beauty and riches! All He asks is that you cease from your striving and allow Him to take over!
So what do you think? Are there any more bonus blessings from Jesus’ death that we can draw out through creative re-interpretation of scripture?